Fenwick, OPRF win first round tournament matchups

Huskies survive late scare

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By James Kay

Sports Editor

OPRF and Fenwick's boys basketball programs shook off their Christmas hangovers to participate in the first round of their holiday tournaments. The Friars played Larkin High School in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament while the Huskies went toe-to-toe with Plainfield North High School at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. Here's a recap of day one of the tourneys.

Fenwick beats Larkin 69-56

The Friars took down the Royals by getting out on the break early. Fenwick outscored Larkin 21-9 in the first quarter as Bryce Hopkins scored the first 11 points for the Friars. He finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 block (he's averaging 23.4 points per game in his last five games). His teammate Max Reese rounded out his night with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Fenwick controlled the momentum for most of the contest outside of one Larkin run in the second quarter that put the Royals within striking distance at 36-30. However, the Friars responded with threes from Cal Malchow and Eian Pugh (Hopkins assisted on both shots) to put Fenwick up 44-32. Two transition dunks later from Hopkins and the Friars never looked back.

"A lot of these games the day after Christmas are ugly," said Friars' head coach Staunton Peck. "But we won and battled back. It wasn't really a close one but it's good to be able to put teams away like that."

The Friars head back to Proviso West High School to take on Uplift High School at 5:30 p.m. in the second round. The Titans have started off 5-7 but were ranked 53rd in the state last year according to MaxPreps.com.

"We will have our hands full tomorrow against Uplift," said Peck. "They have a lot of guys who can penetrate so we have to come back and be ready to play tomorrow."

OPRF prevails in final minute vs. Plainfield North

After allowing 31 points in the first three quarters against Plainfield North High School, the Huskies surrendered 32 points in the fourth quarter and lost their 14-point lead. They avoided the upset after Justin Cross hit an and-one, with 34 seconds left to put OPRF up by one. Rashad Trice followed Cross' 3-point play with a layup with 13.4 seconds left to secure the victory.

Josh Smith led the Huskies with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Cross brought his consistent play to Pontiac and provided his team with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals. Isaiah Barnes had 14 points on 5-13 shooting.

The Huskies are now on a four-game win streak but had a wake-up call with the late-scare from the Tigers.

"We lost our composure a little bit," said Smith on a phone call with Wednesday Journal after the game. "A win is a win, but we can't put ourselves in a situation like that again. We can't come out like we did in the fourth quarter when we face Bloom tomorrow or else we aren't going to be in the game. We made some key plays at the end, but we should have never lost that lead."

OPRF takes on Bloom High School at 11 a.m. on Dec. 27th in the second round of the tournament.

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Bill Stenger  

Posted: December 27th, 2019 1:53 PM

Nice job by both programs!

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